Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Urban and I have the same problem

I just finished reading an article on CNN by a writer discussing why Urban Meyer, Head Coach of the Florida Gator football team, changed his decision from quitting to taking an indefinite leave. Essentially the pressures of the work created health problems. But in the article the writer also felt Coach Meyer had come to a decision that his coaching days would extend beyond his 5oth year. Urban Meyer's dilemma surfaced during a conversation between he and Steve Spurrier head coach of the University of South Carolina. During a dinner conversation Meyer asked Spurrier why he hadn't quit before he was 60. Spurrier told him that when he was Meyer's age he never thought he'd coach into his 60's. Then the real issue came out, "What else am I going to do" Spurrier stated. Therein lies the crux of the issue.

I am not rich. I do not have a six-figure job. My social security check will probably represent over 50% of my income in my retirement years. My goal when I was a young man was to retire at age 50 and spend the rest of my life fishing, hunting, and enjoying life. Now I am 65 and don't know when I will retire.

Money is an issue. I don't have much debt. Our debt consists of a mortgage on a piece of rental property and a home equity loan that I used to renovate our log cabin. Between the two the payments would be about $600 a month. Not bad. Our living expenses are low, taxes and insurance probably average about another $400 a month. Social security for both my wife and I will probably yield $2500 a month, another $380 in a retirement from Case, say $600 a month in rent income and maybe a little draw from my investments and I can get to around $4000 a month without too much trouble. So net living expenses could be $2500 to $3000 a month. That isn't too bad.

The problem is, what am I going to do? I have a work shop, I have a lot of tools, and Terry keeps my "honey do" list quite long. I now have a boat, a canoe, and I have guns for hunting. I haven't fished in years, I haven't hunted in years. I dream of doing both, but I haven't done them for quite some time. I have a nice set of golf clubs, but I only play golf once or twice a year.

Listening to others, reading about Urban Meyer's dilemma and I have come to understand what I have done to myself. I have taken my work into my life. Work defines who I am. All of my adult life I have lead organizations and managed people to achieve some outcome. I am very good at it. I have built self-sustaining organizations. I have provided people who worked in my organizations the opportunity to participate, to become part of the success, and to grow and develop their own careers. My interest has been in solving problems. I lie awake at night thinking and devising methods to overcome issues and enhance the outcome for the organization. When I work I have no hours. If I need to be in early I am. If I need to stay late I do. Nights and weekends my mind turns to the issues, the opportunities, and the outcomes. My workdays do not fit a routine or a schedule, I've never allowed them to.

My youngest daughter has built a wonderful life devoted to her family. Yet, the genes run deep. I know she gets caught up in the mental busyness of work. She doesn't sleep well because her mind turns to the issues. Yet, she does maintain a scheduled work day, in by 8 out by 5. My work day begins when I want it to and ends when I want it to. That is the magic of my job and what I enjoy. However, when home on a weekend, or as now between Christmas and New Years I find my ambition stymied. I don't do a lot of work in my shop, my "honey do" list gets ignored or feebly worked on. I can feel a restlessness and concern of what I should be doing. My health becomes an issue, aches and pains I don't notice when I'm working now make me feel old. I sometimes feel like I'm just sitting around waiting to die. I'm only 65 for cripes sake, and I'm in good health. I should have 20+ years ahead of me, many of them with me able to physically do things. Yet I find myself lethargic and worried.

I enjoy it when my wife is off and we can do things together. I don't feel so restless and directionless. Perhaps that is the curse create for ourselves when we allow work to become part of the meaning of life, instead of using work to allow us to develop meaning in our life. I don't know the answer, but I do know and understand Urban Meyer's dilemma. It is a problem many face when they reach that stage in life when success isn't the issue anymore. It becomes more personal than that. Good luck Urban Meyer, we'll both need some.

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